France's Senate [official website, in French] on Thursday commenced debate of a bill [text, in French] that would legalize same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] and allow same-sex couples to adopt children. The bill came before the upper house of parliament after approval [JURIST report] in February by France's lower house of parliament. The bill is controversial, despite the fact that both houses of parliament are under the control [AP report] of Socialist President Francois Hollande [official website, in French; BBC profile] and his party. Those opposed to the bill protested outside of the upper house of parliament in Paris. While a narrow majority of French citizens support same-sex marriage, fewer favor allowing same-sex couples to adopt children. The French Senate is expected to debate the bill until April 13. If the bill is approved, France will be among about a dozen European countries that allow same-sex marriage.
Same-sex marriage has been controversial globally in recent years. On Tuesday, Uruguay's Senate voted 23-8 [JURIST report] in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. The bill creates one law covering marriage for both heterosexual and homosexual couples. Last Wednesday, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in United States v. Windsor [JURIST report], the second of two cases the court heard this week on same-sex marriage. In Wednesday's argument, the court considered the validity of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) [text; JURIST news archive], a federal law that recognizes only opposite-sex marriages for federal benefits purposes, despite state law on the issue.